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Accidents, Alibis, and Coerced Confessions - Common California Criminal Law Defenses

Criminal defenses are a vital part of the criminal legal process in the California court system. There are over ten different types of defenses that legal teams and defendants may use to argue a defendant’s innocence in any type of criminal proceeding. Using an experienced lawyer in California criminal law can help you to structure your argument in a way that protects your interests as much as possible using any of the available and applicable defenses. In this article, we discuss accidents, alibis, and coerced confessions: three of the most common defenses you’ll see in the court system, and the benefits and considerations when using each.

What is a criminal defense?

A criminal defense is an argument or path of reasoning that your criminal defense lawyer may use to plead your case. The purpose of the defense is to leverage lower rates or severity of punishment, which may result in reduced fines, few pursued charges, or an overall more positive result for the defendant than they may otherwise have.

The “Accident” Criminal Defense

The main tenant of this type of criminal defense focuses on the underlying cause of the crime being completely unintentional on behalf of the defendant — putting the blame entirely on an unfortunate set of circumstances or a singular tragic occurrence. This type of defense is difficult to argue in court, but can be done if there is compelling evidence proving the defendant's unintentional action or affiliation that could have led to the crime occurring. This type of argument could result in complete dismissal or relent of any additional charges being filed by the prosecution.

This type of argument and its viability varies by state, as certain states require intentionality and motive in order to classify an unfortunate circumstance or event as a potential crime. Determining the best type of argument to use in your defense will ultimately come at the recommendation of your criminal defense attorney, whether chosen or assigned.

The Alibi Criminal Defense

Using the alibi criminal defense method relies on the defendant being elsewhere at the time that the crime was committed. Often, this will need to be verified by one or several witnesses depending on the crime’s surrounding circumstances. Often, additional weight could be added if the witnesses are trustworthy or are unrelated to the defendant, as family members or close friends acting as witnesses could provide a significant conflict of interest.

In every criminal case, the judge will be the ultimate determining factor when it comes to proving the validity of the alibi. There are many different things that could serve as proof of potential alibi, including:

● Text messages and phone calls

● GPS location

● Verbal accounts and confirmation

● Cam footage from red light or traffic cameras

● Social media footage, check-in’s, and proof with timestamps

While this is not an exhaustive list of what could be used to help argue the validity of an alibi, those are common examples of proof that you might find in the digital age.

The Coerced Confession Criminal Defense

A coerced confession is fairly difficult to prove on behalf of a defendant, as this would require thorough review of any evidence related to a given confession. The foundation of the coerced confession defense method relies on there being a forced confession and account given. Common examples of this include coercion that happens even after a defendant has been read their Miranda rights. Investigations, interrogations and confessions must go a certain way in order to be deemed organic and useable by the court. If they are done incorrectly or in a format in which the defendant may have been “forced” to admit to a crime thar they may have not committed, this defense may be considered.

There are three main types of confessions, including:

Voluntary false confessions - These describe instances where the defendant self-admits incorrect information that would tie them to a crime that they didn’t commit. There may be personal reasons for doing this, or potential mental illness underlying the motivation.

Compliant false confessions - These may happen in the heat of police involvement or could occur through any point in the process from the sheer overwhelm or anxiety about the circumstances.

Persuaded false confessions - These are most commonly associated with the recognition of coerced confessions, and involve people in power or investigators influencing the confession of a defendant or accused individual.

Taking enough evidence into account, your criminal defense attorney may consider arguing for any of the three iterations of the false confession defense above.

Seek Legal Help for California Criminal Law Cases

Navigating your California criminal court case requires a refined and experienced hand, as well as a partnership that can guide you through every step of the process. The experts at Arete Law are here to assist you in your criminal defense needs. For more information, schedule a free consultation by going to

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